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Guard against injuries at work this National Safe Work Month

The 2022 National Safe Work Month (NSWM) campaign began on Saturday. Like each year, the campaign is designed to raise awareness of the importance of prioritising work health and safety. This year, each week of the NSWM campaign is focusing on a different area of work health and safety. This week’s focus is ‘injuries at work’.

Safe Work Australia data shows that more than 120,000 workers are compensated for a serious work-related injury or illness in Australia each year, and just under 200 are fatally injured at work.

Two businesses were recently fined after one such (non-fatal) work-related injury.

The companies, Bricks Australia Services Pty Ltd (Bricks) and PGH Bricks & Pavers Pty Ltd (PGH), were convicted and fined at Heidelberg Magistrates' Court for breaching work health and safety laws when a worker inspecting plant became caught and suffered injuries to his arm, elbow and fingers.

Bricks was the employing entity of the worker and supplied workers to the brick manufacturing facility operated by PGH. The worker was under PGH’s management and control at the time of the incident.

The plant involved in the incident was a conveyor known as a CO7. Importantly, no guarding had been installed on the head drum of the conveyor and in its place PGH relied on administrative controls including a lock-out and tag system when the conveyor required maintenance.

On the day of the incident, the worker noticed an error message indicating an operational issue with the head drum of the conveyor. The worker approached the head drum of the conveyor to inspect the issue and his right arm became caught between the belt and head drum. Other workers heard the incident and activated the emergency stop. The worker suffered multiple injuries to his arm, including nerve crushing and damage from his right bicep to fingers.

As the owner and manager of the facility, PGH pleaded guilty and recognised it was reasonably practicable to affix permanent guarding on the conveyor. As the employer, Bricks pleaded guilty and acknowledged it should have taken steps to inform and instruct its employees about the risks associated with the conveyor.

Fines of $40,000 and $10,000 were imposed on PGH and Bricks respectively.

This case is a timely reminder during week one of NSWM of the importance of managing the risk of injury at work. It not only protects your workers; it can keep you out of court!

Find out more about NSWM

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